We know you’re always on the lookout for books to add to your ever-growing TBR—look no further than the list below! We’re pairing some of your favorite YA books with some of our titles to make a perfect match.
If you like SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli…try GIRLS LIKE ME by Lola St. Vil
Both of these books will leave you with that feel-good feeling from reading an emotional story with a happy ending. And they both involve the twists and turns that come with falling in love online!
Shay, a fat girl who is still mourning the death of her father, meets a guy online and the chemistry is electric. The problem? He’s the cutest, most popular guy in her grade, and she is convinced if he knew who she really was, he’d never like her. So Shay keeps her identity a secret…that is, until she can’t anymore. One of the other things we love about this book is the close friendship she has with her friends Dash and Boots—just like Simon has with his! These fluffy reads are book BFFS, and belong together on your shelf.
If you like ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen McManus…try WITH MALICE by Eileen Cook
We love a good pysch thriller, where no one can be trusted and the ending makes you question everything you just read! One of our newer favorites is ONE OF US IS LYING, where a group of teens become suspects in the murder of one of their classmates. It’s so thrilling and twisty!
If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about lying, it’s Skye Thorn of THE HANGING GIRL. She’s a professional at it—charging classmates for tarot card readings and taking advantage of their vulnerabilities is what Skye is good at, even though she wishes it were different. But she’s trying to get money to cover up another lie: that she can’t afford to live with her best friend in New York after high school. Oh, and there was that other lie she told about her dad being a war hero…and her rep never really recovered once the truth got out. But Skye’s lies are piling up, and when a harmless prank turns fatal, she has to tell just one more so she doesn’t end up in jail.
If you like THE YOUNG ELITES by Marie Lu…try GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers
THE YOUNG ELITES is about a society of magical, villainous teens working to unseat corrupt rulers from power…and so is GRAVE MERCY, but with an extra twist: these aren’t just any teens, they are assassin nuns! And where do they get their power? From the God of death himself, Mortain.
This historical fantasy is perfect for fans of Marie Lu’s darkly romantic trilogy. There are three books so far, each focusing on a specific girl in the convent of St. Mortain. Courtly intrigue, romance, and villainy are present in every page—and there are two more books coming in this series, so marathon-read them now!
If you like ARISTOTLE AND DANTE by Benjamin Alire Saenz…try THE INEXPLICABLE LOGIC OF MY LIFE (also by him!)
ARISTOTLE AND DANTE is one of the best books of the decade, if not of all time. The love story of Ari and Dante is emotional and harrowing, as two boys meet and form a friendship that will carry them through some of the most difficult experiences of their lives such as homophobic encounters, discovering their own sexuality, deep-rooted machismo in atinx culture, violence, and much more.
Benjamin’s next YA book, THE INEXPLICABLE LOGIC OF MY LIFE, deals with many similar issues, but tells the story of three best friends through one POV. Sal is white, but he belongs to a Mexican American family after being adopted as a kid by his gay dad. It’s all about how family is something you can choose, and the family you are born into doesn’t have to define you. Sal, Sam and Fito suffer some great losses over the course of the book, but it binds them together not just as friends, but as a family. If you’re looking for another book that will make you cry and smile at the same time, this is it!
If you like THE SCORPION RULES by Erin Bow… try WASTE OF SPACE by Gina Damico
Sci fi is so much fun, especially when it combines humor and high-stakes action. That’s what we loved best about THE SCORPION RULES, a sci-fi dystopia about a group of teens kept as hostages in order to prevent their parents, rulers of their respective countries, from declaring war on one another. Add in a sadistic (and hilariously evil) teenage AI, and you’ve got a recipe for a perfect read.
WASTE OF SPACE is kind of the opposite of dystopian—in many ways, it’s actually a satire about the modern world, our reliance on technology, and the ridiculousness of reality TV—but it’s also a story with a lot of heart. This time the sadistic force at play is a TV show producer determined to do whatever possible to get the best ratings for his show…even if that means completely screwing over the ten teens who signed up to go to Mars and compete. When the show’s communication completely shuts down, leaving them abandoned in space (or so they think) the teens must unravel a conspiracy far greater than any of them imagined.
You can buy any of these books using the links below:
It’s alive! Yep, we’re talking about the terrifyingly beautiful cover for Catherine Reef’s next YA biography, this time tackling the literary titan Mary Shelley. You’ve heard of Mary Shelley before, because she wrote Frankenstein when she was only a teenager! But there’s a lot of stuff about her you may not have known, because her life reads like a dark gothic novel, filled with scandal, death, drama, and one of the strangest love stories in literary history.
Without further ado, here’s the cover!
What a beautiful, eerie image…perfect for the beautiful, eerie life this woman led. if you want to learn more about Mary Shelley, this September 2018 book should definitely be on your TBR.
In the mood for a funny sci-fi with a lot of heart! Make WASTE OF SPACE your next read. Here’s what it’s about:
Cram ten hormonal teens into a spaceship and blast off: that’s the premise for the ill-conceived reality show Waste of Space. The kids who are cast know everything about drama—and nothing about the fact that the production is fake. Hidden in a desert warehouse, their spaceship replica is equipped with state-of-the-art special effects dreamed up by the scientists partnering with the shady cable network airing the show.
And it’s a hit! Millions of viewers are transfixed. But then, suddenly, all communication is severed. Trapped and paranoid, the kids must figure out what to do when this reality show loses its grip on reality.
Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.
Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.
Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku.
I did not like the book, unlike the majority of book bloggers on Goodreads who rated the Empress of All Seasons a five out of five. I would give it a one. Right at the start, my first impression was that I’ve read this same unoriginal YA fantasy too many times. The same blan characters who win the games and fall in love and all that halabaloo. It’s exhausting. It did have an interesting premise as it is the woman who enters the competition to win the prince’s hand in marriage but it completely fell through. Both the writing and world building were undeveloped, and it made reading this book a chore rather than a enjoy.
As *surprise* romance plays a mammoth part within the plot, I found myself skimming the bucket loads of cringey duologue.
“”We complement each other.”
A corner of Taro’s lips twitched. He took her hand, pressing a kiss to her palm. “You best me in combat and in rhetoric.”
Mari smiled, a flush spreading from her neck to her toes. Sh nodded at the Fall Room door. “I hold no favorable memories of that room.”
Taro’s eyes flickered to Mari’s. “Someday, you will have to tell me how you survived it.”
Mari kept silent, remembering the smell of the oni’s breath, the feel of its flesh as her claws raked its face. “I must have some secrets,” she teased.
“Not from your husband,” Taro corrected dark gaze raking her up and down.”
Brown’s graphic novel opens with protests in Syria in March 2011, and the violence that followed. As Syrians flee the country and Assad’s soldiers, others join the fight. Hardships plus the possibility of torture and execution force many to make difficult choices for themselves and their families. Overloaded ships overturn at sea. Profiteers are everywhere. It’s not clear who refugees can trust or where they can go, but leaving seems like a better, safer bet than staying.
The book doesn’t follow a single refugee on her harrowing journey, but instead summarizes the experiences of many based on diverse sources. Individual faces are often drawn somewhat indistinctly, more so in crowd scenes. And despite the despite the extremely difficult circumstances, there are moments of joy and hope. The book made me realize both the scope and scale of what’s happening, and in giving specific examples (with sources cited) and bringing different people into focus (even for just a page or two), it makes it clear that every person in every crowd is dealing with their own particularly difficult experiences.
In Brown’s notes, he says he wanted to focus on the refugee experience, and disregarded everything else to avoid creating “an enormous, sprawling book, one that would not be well served by a graphic novel.” Included in the back are journal summaries from his visits to a refugee camp in Greece in 2017 (along with photos), source notes on particular pages that include the sources of dialogue, and an extensive bibliography. Kudos to him for all of this – it’s not the standard in nonfiction graphic novels, but it should be. While this book may not answer every question about Syrian refugees, it is a great graphic novel.
I know, we can’t believe it, either. Ten years since Katsa came into our lives. Ten years since we fell head over heels for Po. Ten years since Kristin Cashore charmed us all with her YA fantasy about a world both brutal and beautiful, with characters who were often the same.
That’s why we decided to give the book a brand new look, and asked Kristin to write new content inside of it! To get your copy, order from any of the outlets below.
And, just for you, a special letter from Kristin below!
There’s a point in
Graceling where Katsa carries
Bitterblue, who’s ten at the time, across a famously impassable mountain peak.
Katsa does this wearing snowshoes that she’s built herself from scratch, on a
mountain with no tools in her possession, after having seen snowshoes maybe once
or twice in her life. She does it while recovering from a fist fight with a
mountain lion. She does it while wearing no coat, because she’s given her furs
(which she also made herself) to the little girl on her back. She does it in a
shrieking blizzard. She does it without much consideration, because it’s what
she has to do. By the time she’s done carrying Bitterblue across the mountain
pass, she’s decided that it probably was a terrible idea, but it’s okay,
because she’s done it, and she’s fine. Bitterblue is fine too. Everyone is
fine. Katsa was born to do these things.
Next weekend, I’m
boarding a three-masted tall ship in Svalbard, which is a Norwegian archipelago
in the Arctic Ocean 10° from the North Pole. I’ll be on the Arctic Ocean for
two weeks, living in this tall ship, experiencing one of the world’s most
unique and beautiful environments, possibly encountering polar bears, and
hopefully not puking my guts out. In case you think I’m anything like Katsa,
however, allow me to disabuse you. This evening, I will carefully pack into at
least two separate, wheeled suitcases a substantial amount of clothing composed
of Gore-Tex, synthetic down, real down, fleece, and wool. (Can you imagine
Katsa with a wheeled suitcase?) I have Arctic muck boots. I have a scopolamine
patch behind my ear this very minute, because I’m trying out this powerful
motion-sickness drug before I go, just to make sure it works for me (and the
jury is still out on that one. I feel pretty darn weird). I have a bright
orange coat, which friends suggested I bring rather than the navy blue coat I
was considering, because “It will make you easier to spot.” Nice to hear that
my friends, who sure knows I’m not Katsa, are imagining rescue scenarios.
Anytime I’m on land in the Arctic, I will have an armed guard (because of polar
bears). When I’m on the tall ship, I will have heat, a bed, a bathroom and
shower, and delicious meals prepared for me. Not only am I not Katsa, I am
Bitterblue. I am a fragile and delicate human, with lots of gear and food and
other stuff created by other people’s genius, and with experts making my
And I’m so lucky!
After all, I’m not really Bitterblue either. I’m not fleeing to the Arctic to
escape a psychopath; I’m going there voluntarily, because my life has offered
me the opportunity to join an artist residency called The Arctic Circle, designed by
experts who make this amazing opportunity possible. I’ll be on board the ship
with painters, photographers, filmmakers, composers, sculptors, muralists. Why
has my life offered me this opportunity? Because I wrote a book once, and
people took it into their hearts, and put me in the fortunate and rare position
of being able to write full time. Because I found myself wanting to write more
books, in which I was constantly drawn to tales of tall ships and cold climates,
loneliness and adventure, and self-discovery. Because a painter friend did this
residency once, came back home, and told me I should do it too. And because I
always seem to choose to do things that feel just a little bit too hard for me.
Like writing a
I can’t believe
it’s been ten years since Graceling
was published. I wrote it on faith, not really understanding what it would mean
or how it would change my life, but feeling that I had to at least try. It’s
about people who don’t really know what they’re getting into, but they’re doing
their best, and they’re stretching themselves, and they’re trying to find the
best way to live in a world that sometimes feels a little out of their control.
Katsa was born for physical adventure, but some other parts of her story are
out of her ken… I think that’s what made her, and her adventure, interesting to
Similarly, I don’t
really feel like I was born for this adventure I’m about to embark upon. Surely
an adventurer should be more hardy, and less in need of scopolamine patches and
Gore-Tex? Less anxious about silly things, like whether I’m going to forget to
pack my toothbrush? Less paralyzed by the question of which socks to bring? But
I think one of the things I’ve learned in my life — and I hope I write books in
which my characters are learning this too — is that the most worthwhile
adventures are the ones that you might not feel 100% equipped for as you set
out to do them. It is really worthwhile to do things you’re not sure you can
Thank you, dear
readers who have taken Katsa’s adventure into your hearts. Each of you is an
adventurer in your own life. I hope her successes entertain you and her
vulnerabilities comfort and empower you. I also hope you love her new look, and
will celebrate ten years with me! :o)
WASTE OF SPACE by Gina Damico is unlike any book you’ve ever read. It involves: an intern whistleblower, a government conspiracy, reality TV, NASA, and the 10 teenagers at the center of it all. Told in epistolary format—that means records, documents, journal entries, phone and video transcripts, and more—the book follows each angle of the story as the reader, and the teenagers, get closer and closer to the truth about what really happened behind the scenes of the viral hit TV show Waste of Space...and why the government tried to cover up the truth.
You can read the first few chapters of WASTE OF SPACE below!
Los Angeles, CA
National Center for Missing
& Exploited Children
Charles B. Wang International
699 Prince St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
May 7, 2017
To Who It Might Concern:
As per your request, enclosed
are all relevant transcripts of recorded meetings, phone calls, email
correspondence, raw video footage, edited-for-broadcast video footage, and
confessional interviews used in the production (from development up until the glitch)
of the reality television show Waste of
Space. We apologize for the admittedly substandard quality of the
transcripts; since you insisted on a rushed—some would say
unreasonable—deadline, the task to type them up fell to an untrained intern who
seems to have inserted personal commentary and conjecture in certain places. A
more objective compilation is forthcoming.
We hope these documents will
help you guys with your investigation, though we would be remiss if we did not
insist yet again that we officially disavow any responsibility for the incident
currently under investigation. Waivers were signed. Parents were informed, or
so we thought.
This isn’t on us.
CEO, DV8 Productions
Untrained intern here.
Shortly after my boss wrote the above letter, he instructed
me to go down to the post office and mail it, along with the thick packet of
documents that accompanied it. On the way, I was to ask his personal courier,
Boris, to deliver to the office enough recreational drugs to “stop the heart of
an elephant,” as the DV8 team was “super stressed.” Then it was suggested that,
in honor of the people who were giving our company so much trouble, I stop by
an Edible Arrangements store to buy a symbolic bouquet of “fruits with sticks
up their asses.”
I did none of those things. The packet was not mailed. Fruit
was not purchased, sarcastically or otherwise. I spoke to Boris, but about a
different matter altogether. Drugs were acquired—but only for me, and only in
the form of caffeine. The decision to become a whistleblower is not an easy
one, and faced with the daunting task of tearing into that packet of documents
and learning things I could not unlearn, I needed a pot of freshly brewed
The account that follows is my attempt to ascertain what
really happened in January and February of the year 2017—not what was reported
in the news, not what was claimed afterward in the statements from all parties
involved. The evidence I will present is composed of the files found in the
aforementioned packet, plus several additional records unearthed over the
course of my investigation (some of which were obtained through measures that
were not, I admit, strictly legal). All documents are presented in their
original states and are labeled with as much information as I could ascertain.
The full body of evidence calls to mind a jigsaw puzzle at a
yard sale—some pieces are missing, some are bent out of shape, and some don’t
make sense unless one can see the full picture. The truth may be out there, but
I doubt anyone will ever be able to irrefutably prove what it is. All I can
hope for is that my version is the closest.
Full disclaimer: Because I personally knew and/or met most of
the witnesses, and as I was watching and listening from behind the scenes
throughout many of the events described herein, it’s inevitable that some of my
own judgments and criticisms will leak into this report. But I’ll do my best to
keep my perspective to a minimum and to interpret the events in an unbiased
manner. To that end, I will refrain from telling this story from my point of
view, as it is not meant to be a tell-all. From this point forth I’ll let the
evidence speak for itself.
I am not the story here. I, like each of you, was only a
When I accepted an
internship at DV8, I knew it wasn’t going to lead to a Pulitzer. The network
isn’t what you’d call “prestigious” or “groundbreaking” or “staffed by literate
individuals,” but the road to a degree in journalism is fraught with despair,
douchebags, and dead ends, and I was aware of and prepared for that. In today’s
competitive job market (especially in an allegedly dying profession), I was
ecstatic to land any internship at all. I vowed to throw myself into the inane,
unending errands. I’d cheerfully fire off meaningless tweets, retweets, and
“impactful hashtags.” I’d withstand indignities and humiliations galore, and
after all that, I’d be on my way with six full credits and nary a look back at
the eight months of hell I’d had to endure, all in the name of my education.
But then came Waste of
And a different type of education presented itself.
July 11, 2017
The year is 2017.
Things aren’t looking good for the future of space
exploration. Things aren’t looking good for the state of reality programming,
either. It is at this intersection of earnestness and stupidity that the idea
for Waste of Space is born.
Naturally, it involves teenagers.
And so it comes to pass that in the midst of a rare Los
Angeles thunderstorm, a dozen shadowy figures meet in the small hours of the
morning at a secret and nefarious location: the Denny’s off Wilshire Boulevard.
They take up two tables, eight urns of coffee, and five carafes of orange
juice. The astrophysicists wittily order Moons Over My Hammy. The television
executives order nothing.
The following meeting ensues.
Item: Transcript of audio
Date: January 2, 2017
[Note: Due to the difficulty in identifying multiple voices, most
speakers have been labeled with their organizations rather than as individuals;
this format will be employed in several instances throughout this report.]
DV8: You’re okay with
us recording this, right?
NASAW: We don’t know
what “this” is yet.
Waiter:[off-mike] Who ordered extra hash
[thirty seconds of
unintelligible chatter, rustling, sound of plates being placed on table and
DV8: All right. Now
that you’ve got your breakfasts—
NASAW: Aren’t you
going to eat?
DV8: We don’t have
time to eat.
NASAW: Not even a
DV8: Especially not a
bagel, Paleo doesn’t—forget it. Back to the matter at hand: our proposal.
[sound of a throat
clearing, then a chair scraping across the floor as Chazz Young, CEO of DV8,
stands up to address the group]
Chazz: Ladies and
gentlemen of science, I hate to break it to you, but astrophysics isn’t cool
anymore. Sure, people embrace technology when it allows them to post photos of epic
bacon-wrapped food items, but drag them into a planetarium and you’ll end up
with desperate scratch marks on the walls. Funds have been cut, the man on the
moon is several decades in the rearview mirror, and the youth of America
continue to respond to the vast and impossibly boundless possibilities of outer
space with an emphatic yawn.
NASAW: What about Cosmic Crusades? Cosmic Crusades is cool.
Chazz: Science fiction
is cool. Science is not.
Chazz: Example: two
different panels at Comic Con, one with the cast of a space movie franchise and
one with genuine astronauts. Which do you think will be better attended?
Likewise, we admit, people have grown bored with the repetitive nature of reality
television. They can watch only so many bar fighters, spurned lovers, table
flippers, bug eaters, bad singers, and cat hoarders before it all seems like
stuff they’ve already seen before. The world is clamoring for something new!
Otherwise they’ll have to turn off their devices and go read a book, and we
simply can’t have that.
NASAW: Books aren’t
Chazz: Books are the
Chazz: So. You need to drum up interest in the
space program, and we need more eyes
on more screens. Luckily, we’ve come up with a solution that we feel will be
mutually beneficial to both of us.
NASAW: And that is?
Chazz: We want to take
a bunch of teenagers and shoot them into space.
Chazz: And put it on
Chazz: Why not?
NASAW: Aside from
reasons that should be apparent to anyone with a functioning brain stem, it’s a
logistical nightmare. They’d need to undergo months of training and health
assessments. You’d need a ship big enough to accommodate a cast, crew,
Chazz: Oh, we’ll be
faking it. The whole thing will be shot on a soundstage. You really think TheReal
Housewives of Atlantis was filmed at the bottom of the ocean? Please. Those
women were so full of silicone they would have floated straight to the surface.
NASAW: But we thought
this would be a purely educational endeavor. Didn’t you say you were from PBS?
Chazz: Yes! We lied.
We’re from DV8.
NASAW: DV .º.º. 8?
Chazz: It’s a cable
television network with several blocks of programming across multiple
platforms, including streaming services, our own website, and every social
media outlet there is. We’d like to cram all of them full of this.
[sound of coffee urns
shakily hitting the rims of coffee mugs]
Chazz: Which is why we
need you! Our first choice was obviously NASA, but they not so politely
declined. So the low-rent version of NASA it is!
NASAW: I beg your
pardon. We are the National Association for the Study of Astronomy and
Weightlessness. We are not some piddling little administration—
Chazz: Which is exactly why we’d like you to be
consultants. We’ll take care of the casting, the production, everything on that
end. You, meanwhile, design a convincing space plane—
Chazz: —you tell us
what all the rumbles and beeps and boops are supposed to sound like, and we’ll
bring in the best special effects team money can buy.
NASAW: But won’t this
seem like one big joke? With all due respect to your special effects, not even
the major Hollywood movies can get it a hundred percent right. It’s going to
Chazz: People believe
what they want to believe. Remember America’s
Next Top Murderer? Viewers thought that victims were actually being picked off by a serial killer. The network had to
start airing a disclaimer before each episode,saying, “No one’s really dying,
NASAW: Are you
Chazz: Well, I’m
NASAW: I’m sorry, I’m
having a hard time wrapping my head around this. It just doesn’t seem
necessary. We’ve got a bunch of new initiatives in the works—
Chazz: Snore. Yawn. Coma. Let’s be real. Space
is passé, and everyone knows it. But you still need a new generation to carry
on that galaxy research gobbledygook, or your life’s work will be nothing more
than a sham, right? [hearty laughter]
So let’s get them excited. Let’s take a bunch of young, gullible, energetic,
absurdly good-looking teenagers, stuff them into a space plane—
Chazz: —give them some
bullshit training, and tell them they’ll be the first ones ever to set foot on
NASAW: You can’t set
foot on Jupiter. Jupiter is a gas giant.
Chazz: You’re a gas giant! [sound of high-fiving] That’s what they’ll say. That’s what the
kids will say. Comedy gold like that.
Chazz: Point is,
this’ll get the youth of America high on space again. Audiences will watch
those beautiful idiots floating out there in zero G and want to be just like them. They’ll buy space suits.
They’ll buy that astronaut ice cream that tastes and looks and feels like
Styrofoam. The merchandising possibilities alone are astronomical. Pun
intended! [sound of more high-fives]
NASAW: Now, you listen
here. I’ve raised teenagers, and if there’s one thing I can tell you about
them, it’s that they do nothing but talk. All day long. On the phone, on the
computer, to themselves. How do you expect to get a group of high schoolers in
on a secret like this and not blab thirty seconds later about how lame and fake
Chazz: Easy. We tell
them it’s real.
NASAW: You want to
trick a group of kids into thinking that they’re actually being launched into space?
NASAW: You want them
to think that they’re actually being
torn away from their friends and family for months, undertaking a dangerous
mission from which they actually
might not return?
Chazz: Yes. Drama.
NASAW: But isn’t that
Chazz: “Cruel” is such
a subjective word .º.º.
NASAW: Not in this
case! The entire proposition is morally questionable! I’m sorry, but we—we
can’t sign on to do something like this.
Chazz: Fine. Continue
your recruiting efforts in the same way you have been. How’s that going for
Chazz: Envision with
us, for a moment: Plucky kids. Touching backstories. Plaintive piano music.
They first set foot in the space plane. Their eyes light up. Our intrepit
NASAW: The word you’re
attempting to use is “intrepid.”
Chazz: Pretty sure
it’s intrepit. Anyway, the mission commences. Lifelong friendships are formed.
Bitter fights erupt. Maybe a slap or two. A slap in zero gravity—that’s never
been done before! [sound of a pen
scribbling in a notebook] Every eye in America will tune in to check on
their new cosmic sweethearts. We’ll edit it down to a half hour each week, plus
a live segment tacked on at the end of the show so the cast can wave to their
furiously jealous friends in real time. We’ll air it online, too. Live stream,
24/7. Shove it into viewers’ faces until they can’t help but get swept up into
it. And before you know it, their impressionable young minds will be putty in
your hands. They’ll sign up in droves to join the Cosmic Crusades!
NASAW: That is a
fictional movie featuring fictional space heroes.
Chazz: All the more
reason to bolster their ranks! Point is, once this show airs, you’ll have an
entire generation of walking, talking, floating space zombies begging to be a
part of it, ready to do your bidding.
[sound of chairs scraping]
Chazz: We’ll give you
some privacy to discuss.
NASAW #1: Has it
really come to this?
NASAW #2: The worst
part is, they’re right. We’ve tried so hard, reached out as much as we can, but
we still haven’t connected with the voice of today’s youth. These .º.º. people, horrible as they are, do have the kids’ attention.
NASAW #3: It pisses me
off! Sitting here across from these plastic, vapid nincompoops, having to
listen to this claptrap. We’re scientists, for Galileo’s sake! People should be
looking to us as golden gods of
knowledge, worshiping us for our big
brains and thick glasses! Why can’t anyone see that?
NASAW #4: I don’t
know. But something has to be done. Something drastic.
Chazz: All right,
time’s up. What do you say, nerds?
NASAW:[dejected] When do we get started?
Chazz: Casting begins
Despite the assumed
glamour of it all, the logistics of organizing a nationwide audition are
tedious, daunting, and involve more screaming fits than one might think.
Hundreds of phone calls, emails, contracts, and location deposits go into the
organization of the Waste of Space
Star Search (pun intended!), and within one breakneck week, all necessary
casting and administrative personnel are marshaled and five lucky shopping
malls across America are chosen as casting locations.
Thousands of teenagers show up. Each is photographed, given
an applicant number, and paraded before a panel of network representatives.
Those deemed attractive enough are admitted through to the interview phase,
where casting directors interrogate them on the spot.
Not a single interview is recorded. DV8’s casting procedures
are unconventional at best and impulsive at worst; this is by design, as will
be described in the pages ahead. But this particular lack of content may be for
the best. Many applicants are desperate, depressed, lonely, and/or starving for
attention, the sorts of kids for whom the opportunity to be shot into space
would be an improvement in their lives rather than a calamity. The fact that
their audition interviews will never see the light of day will be, for many of
the applicants in the years to come, a blessing in disguise.
Besides, the evidence that’s left is, in some ways, far more
The following is a small
compendium of documents featuring the applicants hat are eventually chosen as
cast members on Waste of Space. Not
all final cast members are represented in this selection, and not all documents
are particularly relevant to the troubles that befall the show, but they are
provided here to offer a bit of insight into the curious mindsets of those who
would endeavor to audition for this particular reality program in the first
Date: December 18, 2016
Dear Mr. Evans,
You probably don’t remember me, but we met last month at the “Leaders
of Tomorrow” luncheon. I’m the one who lost out on the scholarship. No hard
feelings, though! For the chair of the MIT Aerospace Engineering program to
take note of my academic achievements and flight simulation skills and even go
so far as to label me a “future astronaut”—that was reward enough. I am humbled
and honored to have met you, and your vote of confidence means more to me than
you can ever know.
Thank you again for your consideration. I hope our paths cross
again one day—in space!
Item: Transcript of audio recording
Source: Chazz’s cell phone
Date Recorded: January 12, 2017
Hey Uncle Turd,
It’s me again. I know you think you can keep blowing me off, but
guess what? Circumstances have changed. I think you’ll want to pay attention to
me this time.
But first, let’s talk about how you declined to cast me last
summer in Pantsing with the Stars—an
egregious oversight, I think it’s now clear. I wept for the unwatchable drivel
that you doomed yourself to produce without my tour de force personality in the
mix. I can only assume that your foul, idiotic casting directors were felled by
the brain-altering effects of a chlamydia outbreak. How else to explain their
insistence on my absence? My appeal is boundless. My charisma is unmatched. My
pores are impeccable.
And my middle finger is extended in their direction.
But you’ve got a chance to make it up to me. I heard about your
new show. I want in.
And this time, I think you want me in too. Would be a shame if
that video of you and Mom were to end up in Dad’s inbox.
Tell me when and where I should show up. Peace OUT.
Item: Post on Cosmic Crusades
Posted: January 6, 2017
[excerpt from page 3 of 5]
.º.º. and if you freeze the frame at exactly eighty-three minutes
and thirty-seven seconds, you can see that the gamma-ray missile that Fekawa
Gooe sets up is NOT in fact aimed at the Intragalactic Senate, in fact it’s
cocked at an angle of 52.6 degrees, which would in fact point it directly at
Lord Balway Galway, WHO, if you’ll RECALL, stated during the Transnebula Peace
Talks that his home planet of Gavinjia was sure to escape the conflict
unscathed, so OBVIOUSLY the bombing mission was intended as a wake-up call to
prove him wrong and send a TELEKINETIC message that .º.º.
Item: Online video
Posted: January 8, 2017
[IMAGE: hands strumming a
mandolin while words are spoken over the tuneless chords]
looking up at the sky /
and a thought floats by /
what if the galaxy /
is just a strawberry /
and all the stars we see /
are only flecks of seeds /
that get stuck in your teeth /
and increase carbon emissions /
and line the pockets of corporate America
Item: Social media account
[collection of more than
2,000 photos, half of which are unprintable because they are blurry, the other
half of which are unprintable because they feature underage nudity]
Informative as these
documents are, there are two cast members in particular who warrant closer
attention. They will emerge as the most crucial players in this chronicle for a
variety of reasons, not the least of which is that they personally provide a
substantial volume of information about what occurs during production—both of
them by way of personal video diary entries, also known in reality television
parlance as “confessionals.” A small window into their pre-shooting mental
states is provided in the following two documents.
(It’s also worth pointing out that both cast members choose
to express themselves in the form of dispatches to their parents—symbolically
in one case, and literally in the other. This is nothing more than a
coincidence, but as their body of work will come to show, the bond between children
and their absent parents is a complicated one, to put it mildly.)
The first is a clip from Nico’s personal GoPro video camera.
Nico rarely captures himself in the frame of these videos; rather, he uses his
words as a soundtrack for the often mundane images he is recording, which are
mostly of wherever he happens to be at the time.
Item: Transcript of video recording
Source: Nico’s camera
Battery charge: 100%
Date: January 14, 2017
[IMAGE: Nondescript room.
From the angle of the camera, it seems that Nico is seated at a large table at
Nico:[voiceover] Hi Mom. Hi Dad.
I did something stupid.
[The camera pans downward
under the table, now pointing at his feet. They are rested on a skateboard,
which he rolls back and forth.]
I don’t know why I did it. I don’t know how I did it. A lot of systems had to come together to make it
happen. My legs had to push me here, my mouth had to say things, my eyes had to
make contact with other eyes, my brain had to formulate thoughts, my hamster-size
soul had to blow up to ten times its size and pretend to be a lion. And I can
honestly say I don’t know how all those things worked in tandem to do what I
I auditioned for a reality show.
Saying it out loud makes me feel like throwing up.
[Nico gets up from the
chair. Camera pans to window and holds steady on people walking down the
sidewalk—a couple, then a woman pushing a stroller, then two men smoking
It was like .º.º. like I couldn’t help myself. I’d heard that they
were holding auditions at the Queens Center mall, so I told Diego that I was
going there to see a movie with some friends—which he didn’t buy, by the way.
“What’s wrong with movie theaters in the Bronx? Since when do you have friends
in Queens? Why ride the subway for an hour for no reason? Are you out of your
All fair questions. Especially that last one.
But it was the weekend, and I pointed out that I can do whatever
I want with my free time, and he washed his hands of me like he always does, so
I went. Just to watch. Just to film the people in line. Figured they’d be an
interesting crowd. When I got there, I saw the DV8 banner hanging across the
entrance, and I thought, obviously I would never audition, obviously that is
something for the otherninety-nine percent of the teenage population to
embarrass themselves with, but when I
went inside .º.º. I got in line.
Okay, in my defense:
You know how rough I’ve had it.
You know how miserable I’ve been.
(I know you don’t really
know. But let’s pretend that you actually watch these videos. That for the past
couple of years I have not been pouring the contents of my heart into a digital
cache that I’d rather chuck under the B train than let anyone see. Let us
pretend that the phrase “pathetic delusion” does not figure into any of this.
Because the thought of college feels like a five-ton block of
concrete pressing on my back, and the thought of getting a job instead feels
like the floor is rushing up to squish me against the ceiling. Like I’m trapped
in a dungeon in a video game, with all these moving contraptions of torture
trying to flatten me into a splat of pixels. Like no matter what I do, the
future is going to crush me.
I wish you were still here. Diego’s all right, but legal
guardian-slash-older brother is not the same as parent. And I don’t know why I
thought that this show was the answer, but it was something different, a
change, an honest-to-God decision in
a haze of fuzzy, unknowable .º.º.)
[Camera pans away from
window and focuses on a pair of vending machines in the corner of the room.]
Anyway. Back to the mall.
The line was so long, it wrapped all the way past the escalators
and ended near Macy’s. I thought, obviously
I’m not going to give them my name, obviously
I’m not going to forge Diego’s signature on the waiver, obviously I’m not going
to stand in that ridiculous line—
But the line moved fast, and before I could change my mind, my
name was called. They brought me into a vacant store where they had set up
screens to make little cubicles, like the kind they use in blood drives. There
was a cameraman and an interviewer, a woman with a blouse that was cut so low I
could see her bra.
(Sorry for that detail, Mom, but I couldn’t not notice. It was staring me in the face, and I’m a healthy
(Dad, it was bright turquoise with little rhinestones. You get
what I’m saying.)
She asked me all sorts of awful questions, and I answered them.
Told her my age, where I’m from, that I’m into skateboarding and shooting
videos. To be honest, I don’t remember most of what I said, because it all went
by so fast, and she kept nodding, so I kept talking—and also, you know, the
bra. All I remember is that her face lit up like Yankee Stadium when I told her
you were dead, and after that, it all felt like a done deal. That’s when the
dread started, the feeling that this might actually happen. Like I’d stepped
into a pool of sticky tar and it wasn’t going to let me go.
I mean that literally. They wouldn’t let me go.
They brought me into this break room, told me to wait, and closed
[Camera pans to door
handle. Hand reaches out to jiggle it.]
They ducked their heads in about fifteen minutes ago and said
that it shouldn’t be much longer, they’ll be reaching a decision soon.
Shit. Shit shit.
I mean, even if I do get cast, it’s not like I have no choice in
the matter, right?
Obviously I can say no.
Obviously I’m not going to do it.
The final pre-taping
document is another video, this time featuring cast member Titania. She is in a
public restroom, aiming her phone camera at the mirror. She looks straight into
Item: Transcript of video recording
Source: Titania’s cell phone
Date: January 15, 2017
Titania: Remember Trackleton’s Guide to the Big Outdoors?
Cute little picture book that you bought for three ninety-nine at
the ranger’s station. The pages were held together with a plastic coil. It had
maps of Washington’s hiking regions. And it followed Trackleton, that charming,
bearded outdoorsman, as he went on adventures.
His catchphrase was “Keep moving. Keep exploring.” Advice so good
it became our family motto.
You read it every time we went camping, which added up to a lot
of readings over the years. We used to snuggle into our sleeping bags, and you
would read it aloud to us by the lantern light, as little black specks of bugs
giving a shadow puppet performance against the walls of our tent.
We loved that book. Patrick liked the colorful maps. Nathan liked
to chew on the coil. Lily made up songs to go along with the words—remember how
you used to tell her to sing quietly so the rest of us could still hear you
read? As if that girl would ever stop singing.
[Her smile fades.]
I’ve been thinking a lot about that book lately. About
Trackleton’s cheery optimism and can-do attitude. I hadn’t for years, not since
it slipped out of Dad’s pack during the hike through the Columbia River Gorge.
But after our last trip—the trip—it
all came rushing back to me. I can’t get it out of my head. And I finally
It had only two rules: Keep moving. Keep exploring. Hard and
fast, with no room for error. Don’t overthink them, don’t second-guess them,
and everything will work out.
But life isn’t like that at all. Keep moving, and maybe you’ll
succeed. Or not. Keep exploring, and maybe you’ll be happy. Or not. Do both,
and they could lead to the best possible outcome.
Or do both, and they could ruin everything.
Keep moving, keep exploring.
I’d always thought it was good advice. The best advice.
But I’m not so sure anymore.
The applicants are
impressive enough to warrant this response from Chazz Young, the CEO of DV8,
delivered via an all-staff conference call.
Item: Transcript of audio recording
Source: Chazz’s cell phoneDate:
January 16, 2017
Chazz Young: Hey guys!
So I’d like to bring the entire DV8 family up to speed on our new
project. As mentioned at the companywide meeting last week, this project is
going to be groundbreaking. It’s going to break, like, every ground that’s been
put there since television started.
So over the past week we’ve been holding casting sessions in
cities around the country, and—hang on a sec, before I go any further, we all
need to give up some mad, mad props
to the publicity department. Thanks to your commercials, press releases, and
social media efforts, over ten thousand
kids came out to audition! That’s a lot of hormones to shoot into orbit!
So as usual, we’re implementing the classic smash-and-grab
casting technique our network has become famous for. Any of you out there who
are new to the DV8 family, allow me to elaborate on our patented selection
process. Back when we were a tiny fledgling network that didn’t know any
better, we dragged out the audition process for weeks. We left no stones
unturned, no cell phones untapped. We were thoroughly exhaustive in our
attempts to pinpoint what potential castmates might do to one another.
But let us recall the season four finale of Alaskan Sex Igloo. We had thought, based on Saffron’s tendency to
fly off the handle and start stabbing things, that she would break one of the
icicles off the ceiling and use it to stab Khaleesi. We spent all season leading
up to it, right? With foreboding music? And tasteful close-ups of the icicles?
And Saffron’s confessional, where she talked about “getting her stab on”? It’s why we cast her. But for all of our efforts, look what happened—she and
Khaleesi hugged and cried and shared a snow cone. With Jared.
Jared was the one who was supposed to be so lonely and ignored that he left the
safety of the igloo to seek the loving embrace of a grizzly bear!
But the bears never came. And no one got stabbed.
From that point forward, we decided to take a more hands-off
approach. Now, rather than have the whittled-down pool of applicants come in
for a final round of casting, we simply go with our gut reactions and finalize
the cast based on their original, uncut interviews. In fact, we whisk them
directly out of the auditions as soon as their parents or guardians sign the
waiver! (Reminder to all employees: any questions from the press that contain
the word “kidnapping” should be forwarded straight to the PR department.) And
so we are proud to announce that we have already chosen the final ten cast
members—only one week after auditions!
We’ve still applied the standard network reality casting
percentages: fifty percent male, fifty percent female; sixty percent white,
thirty percent ethnic, ten percent undetermined; balanced dispersal of ages
from fourteen to eighteen; plus the four Golden Tokens: gay, foreigner,
disabled, and orphan. And as per usual, we’ll be throwing all sorts of plot
bombs and crazy situations at the poor bastards—with the new added twist of a live segment at the end of each
Of course, we’ll still leave some things up to chance. Fifteen
percent of the editing will be done on the fly, based solely on the
relationships and developments that we’ll be monitoring closely over the course
of each week. Who knows how it’ll unfold? Who knows where it’ll lead? Who knows
what those hyperactive, questionably sane caricatures will throw at us?
I do: Drama.
A brief word about Chazz
Young, CEO of DV8, walking innuendo, and overall trash barge of a human being.
The word that pops up most often when people attempt to
describe Chazz is “exceedingly.” He is exceedingly tanned. His teeth are
exceedingly white. He is exceedingly self-centered, as evidenced by his
initiative to move the human resources department to the basement of DV8
headquarters so his twin puggles could have their own corner office. He is
exceedingly arrogant, treating everyone involved in his television
productions—cast members, crew, staff, and, yes, interns—as insignificant
specks who exist solely to make his star shine more brightly. And he is
exceedingly cocky, given the fact that he unilaterally declared himself to be
the best candidate for on-air talent. Plenty of talented hosts have presented
themselves to DV8 over the years, and although a lucky few manage to grab a
sliver of airtime now and then, it’s Chazz’s vinyl face that you’re most likely
to see whenever you tune in. Especially when it comes to something as
high-profile as Waste of Space.
Which calls to mind another of Chazz’s qualities: he is
exceedingly lazy. He thought that Waste
of Space was going to be a home run no matter what, and that all he had to
do was plug in the numbers to a tried-and-true formula that hadn’t failed him
yet. But when someone as oblivious as Chazz Young stops seeing people as human
beings, he might also stop noticing other details. Smaller details.
Item: Transcript of audio recording
Source: Chazz’s cell phone
Date: January 9, 2017
Chazz: You nerds
there? Ready to get this conference call party started?
NASAW: We’re here.
Chazz: Great. So let’s—[doorbell rings in background]
oh, hang on a sec, everyone. Rock climbing wall delivery.
NASAW: You have your own rock climbing wall?
Chazz:Two rock climbing walls. LA’s an earthquake
town, it’s important to always have a backup—listen, just talk amongst
yourselves for a few minutes. I’ll be right back.
NASAW #1: I can’t believe
we agreed to this. [sound of papers
sifting] These people are certifiable.
NASAW #2: And
NASAW #3: Don’t forget
NASAW #4:[sighing] Well, there’s nothing we can
do about it now. We signed the papers. We’re in this whether we like it or not.
NASAW #2: But look at
these emails! They are hurling money
at this thing. We’ve been trying to get this sort of funding from the
government for years and received nothing—because apparently the money’s all
wrapped up in television! I called to double-check the budget because I figured
it couldn’t possibly be correct, but it is.
The girl on the phone offered to throw in an extra million just because I asked
how her day was going!
NASAW #4: How do they
have so much money? They’re a television network!
NASAW #2: Two words:
Chazz Young. I did some research on this guy. Got rich off his daddy’s trust
fund, then used it to buy a struggling sports channel. He did an extensive
overhaul, switched all its programming to trashy reality television, bumped up
its online presence, and installed his own in-house production company to
develop his own projects.
NASAW #4: What does
NASAW #2: It means
that whenever a ridiculous idea pops into Chazz Young’s mind, he has the
unlimited budget and power to make it into a show, air it on television, and
spread it all over the internet, just like that.
NASAW #3: Let me see
those figures. [sound of coffee being
spit across the table] Jesus Christ! We could buy a brand-new shuttle for
that kind of money! Plus fuel!
NASAW #4: I say we
round up the lot of these dolts and send them
NASAW #2: And I quote:
“We will spare no expense on the visuals. None whatsoever.” They’re teaming up
with a company called ImmerseFX—it makes video games or virtual reality or
theme park rides, I don’t know what the heck it is—to handle the special
effects. Which we’re supposed to keep quiet about, by the way, since they’re
trying to pass this thing off as real.
NASAW #4:Psfff. Good luck.
NASAW #2: They’ve
reserved the largest soundstage in the New Mexico desert, and they’re handing
it over to us, keys and all. “Build a space plane inside!” they said. “Bounce
it up and down! Make as much noise as you want!” The effects people will be out
here for a few days to build the thing based on our designs—then after that,
it’s up to us. All for the purpose of torturing these poor kids with ridiculous
pre-written plot points—
NASAW #3: Pre-written?
I thought this was a reality show.
NASAW #2: Ha! Reality,
my ass. The only thing that’s real is the team of video editors they’ve got on
call, ready to craft it into whatever they need it to be while we get to sit
around with our thumbs up our posteriors, shaking a tin can with of a bunch of
spoiled little fame whores sealed inside.
NASAW #4: But there’s
a host onboard with them, right? Some form of adult supervision?
NASAW #2: Nope! [slightly hysterical laughter] The
network people aren’t even going to be on set! They said they’d, quote, “rather
be shot into the sun than spend three months in that shithole of a desert,” so
they’ll be monitoring everything via live feeds, safe and cool in their
air-conditioned offices in Los Angeles, and sending us their instructions.
Instructions that, I might add, would be hilarious if they weren’t so
NASAW #4:[papers sifting] “Week number one:
Asteroid Attack. Will require impacts against the walls of the space plane.
Week number two: Spinning Out of Control. Will require a rotating video
animation to be displayed in the space plane’s window.”
NASAW #2: And there’ll
be more where that came from! The cameras onboard the ship will record six
hours at a time, upload the video files to the main server we’ll have on-site,
then automatically wipe the memory cards and begin recording again. It’s a
process that can sustain itself indefinitely without any manual upkeep, which
frees up even more time for them to dream up even more foolishness. And then
there’s the list—the twenty-three-point list!—of consultants who are only a
phone call away should we wish to contact them. Industrial Light and Magic,
Pixar, a charter helicopter company, the Jim Henson workshop—
NASAW #3: Are you
kidding me? Puppets? Do they want aliens?
NASAW #2: They might!
They might want aliens!
NASAW #1: Enough. [sound of a coffee mug pounding the table]
There is a clear path through all this.
NASAW #2: Yeah, right
through to the unemployment office. Better get in line.
NASAW #1: You’re
looking at this from the wrong angle. What we have here, ladies and gentlemen,
is an opportunity. A golden opportunity.
NASAW #2: What are you
[sound of coffee being
NASAW #1: We make
NASAW #1: We make
NASAW #1: And then
we make history.
WASTE OF SPACE is available on 7/11, but if you liked this teaser, pre-order it today by clicking the links below!
The summer is NOT almost over, no matter what the calendar says. There’s still time to marathon a bunch of books, and we have a few series we think you must start before the summer departs. You’re welcome!
1. The His Fair Assassins trilogy(soon to be quintuplet!) by Robin LaFevers
This trilogy can be summed up in one simple sentence:
assassin nuns in medieval France. Oh,
and Death is their master. These books are basically like The Young Elites meets Arya Stark’s time with The Faceless Men (if
you’re a Game of Thrones fan like we
are.) They’re dark, steeped with rich and bloody history of medieval warfare,
packed with court intrigue and action, and so, so, romantic. (Seriously, the
swoons here will remind you of how you felt with Alina and the Darkling. You
know, if you’re into that sort of thing.)
You meet Ismae in Grave Mercy, who joins the convent of
Saint Mortain to escape an arranged marriage; Sybella, the most gifted of all
the assassins, who has a terrible secret, in Dark Triumph; and inMortal Heart,
Annith discovers her power comes with a great cost, and will alter their
If you haven’t checked out this series yet, this summer is
the perfect time to try, because Robin Lafevers is gifting us with TWO MORE
BOOKS in this series!
The Undertow Trilogy by Michael Buckley
The title to this series makes it obvious where these books
are begging to be read: at the beach! And you’ll need the sunshine, too,
because this story is dark with lots of shadowy characters to contend with.
Part sci-fi, part dystopian, this trilogy explores what would happen if aliens
showed up on Earth—but they didn’t come from the sky?
Lyric Walker watches as the Alpha, ocean warriors, ascend
from their watery depths on to Coney Island. Factions immediately break out as
the government tries to separate the humans from the Alpha…except that Lyric
has met their crown prince, Fathom, and wants to be with him. We won’t spoil
what happens in Raging Sea, or Heart of the Storm, but we will say that athor E
Lockhart said of this series “Allegorical
and romantic, [Undertow] reads like an action movie with especially awesome
CGI." There’s your summer blockbuster!
Jessica’s Guide to Dating On the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
If you wish Vampires would come back into YA, don’t stress:
they’ve been here all along. This duology is an oldie but a goody about Jessica
Parkwood, a regular girl trying to get a life during her senior year of high
school. But her plan changes when she meets Lucius Vladescu, who tells her not
only is she actually a long-lost vampire princess, he’s her one true love.
(Dreamy, right?) The Princess Diaries with a paranormal twist, Jessica can’t
resist the allure of her new vampire life—and when someone threatens it, she’ll
do anything to stop them. If part of you still wants to live out your fantasy
of becoming a vampire princess, there’s no time like the present to discover Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, and the sequel, Jessica Rules the Dark Side.
Court intrigue, gilded palaces, betrothals, secret
entrances, corsets and crowns and thrones, oh my! We love a good royal YA, and
this series is one you may not have read yet but totally should. When a sixteen
year-old girl is coaxed into posing as a lady in waiting during King George I’s
reign, she thinks she’s made it big. But then she discovers that the girl she’s
pretending to be might have been killed…and she could be next! The next two
books, Dangerous Deceptionsand Assassin’s Masquefollow Peggy throughout her
time in England, as she survives royal scandals, murder attempts, and
heartbreak. Fans of The Winner’s Curse trilogy will love these books!
Croak by Gina Damico
If you take your sunshine with a bit of doom and gloom,
check out Croak by Gina Damico! This series is a darkly humorous take on a rebellious
teenage girl forced to spend a summer on her Uncle Mort’s farm. But her bad
summer is about to become a bit more fun: that is, if finding out the real
family business is Grim Reaping, and she’s next in line for the job. The series
gets even more twisted when Lex finds out that she can damn the souls she
reaps, which scares even the toughest of dead-soul collectors. If you love Neal
Schusterman’s Scythe, Zac Brewer’s books, and a little humor alongside your
darkness, this is the one for you.
So, are you up to the challenge of reading all these books before the summer is over? We hope so! Let us know which ones are your favorite, and any other series starters we should add to our TBR.
This season we’re
thankful for these five moments that are sweet as cider and will warm your
heart like grandma’s apple pie.
Grim Lovelies by
Beau and Anouk dancing in the kitchen
He held up their hands as though ready to dance. Soapy water
ran down his arm, soaking his shirt cuff, but he didn’t seem to mind. The tempo of the violin music picked up;
Viggo must have been in a good mood. Laughter came from the ballroom.
Anouk rested one hand on his should and sighed. “Go on,
then. Show me how.”
He grinned. “Step back. Like this. There. Now forward.”
She tried to follow his movements, leaving damp footprints
on the kitchen tiles. He led her in a clumsy circle around the big oak table,
one-two-three-four.” The floor was slick from the water dripping form her dish
gloves. Soap bubbles popped in the sink.
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Sal and Mima making cornbread
We were making pies. Well, I wasn’t doing any making. It was
really just my dad. And Uncle Julian. They’re, like, this team. They look
alike. I sat next to Mima as Dad rolled out the dough.
Mima nodded. “I showed him, she said.
She was calm.
Then Mima said to me, “We should make the corn bread.” Yeah,
the corn bread. Mima’s stuffing was to die for. So I got the ingredients and
made room for myself on the kitchen table. I took out a big mixing bowl. We
always tripled the recipe. Making the corn bread with Mima was my thing. Our
I watched her hands as they worked the batter over with a
wooden spoon. I wanted to kiss them.
Green by Meredith Russo in Meet Cute
Nia and Lexie at a party
Her throat tightened and her eyes felt suddenly hot and wet
and her face twisted up and this was worse than throwing up, definitely worse,
but then she felt arms around her neck and she opened her eyes to find her cheek
pressed into Nia’s neck, her nose filled with lavender and bergamot hiding just
under a blanket of woodsmoke, and the tears faded.
I twist back to Charlotte. And freeze. There’s a welt on her
cheek and her coat’s hanging open and askew on her shoulders. She’s still
wearing the brown dress I last saw her in. There’s blood on it.
I jumped from the bed, and my hands push the coat down her
arms till it catches at the crook of her elbows. Then I’m inspecting her – brushing her hair back to see her neck, the
side of her head – searching for whatever injuries left the dress collar
“It’s yours,” she says. “Reece, it’s your blood.”
From when she helped me into the house. I realize my hands
are cupping her face, and I step away quickly.